It’s here, everyone. After a seemingly endless fourth season, the final chapter of Attack on Titan has come. In the first of two one-hour specials, “The Rumbling” and “Sinners” pick up where “The Dawn of Humanity” left off. The audience is treated to a gruesome look at the suffering inflicted by Eren’s army of Titans. We are also given a look into the plan concocted by the remaining members of the 104th Scout regiment. And, sadly, not everyone survives the hour.
Now that the end is finally here (I mean, we hope), I’m not sure how to feel. I’m excited to see how the story ends, but I’m also wary. I know there’s no way we get a happy ending; it’s impossible at this point. There is also no way that everyone I care about is going to survive to the end. That’s already been proven, as we lost Hange at the end of “The Rumbling”.
Losing Hange is a blow, not only for her creative and tactical mind, but also for what she represents. Aside from Levi, she’s one of the last members of the old guard. Given the short life expectancy of the Scouts, Hange lasting as long as she did is a testament to her skill and cunning. As such, she realizes that when the Rumbling catches up to them at the skyboat hanger, she is the most likely candidate to stay behind and try to slow them down.
This may be one of the greatest ODM scenes in the entire anime. It’s certainly the best scene Hange has ever been given. And her desire to go out in a blaze of glory was granted as she worked tirelessly to give the others even a few minutes to get the skyboat in the air.
(Side note: I knew Floch was alive. First rule of media: if you don’t see a character die, you can’t assume they’re dead.)
I knew she wasn’t going to survive as soon as she volunteered to stay behind, so I was essentially crying the entire way through. It was devastating watching the others see her fall. I’m glad she was given such a glorious sendoff. And I love that, in the end, she was reunited with Erwin and her fallen comrades.
It makes me wonder if Eldians have an afterlife. They’re all connected through the Coordinate, and no one else has gotten that kind of cheesy goodbye scene before. (Also, Erwin mentions the skyboat, which he would have had no knowledge of before he died.)
When you look at what victims of the Rumbling, it’s not difficult to understand why Hange did what she did. And truthfully, it’s all still theoretical to our heroes from Paradis. The carnage shown at the beginning of “The Rumbling” is not something they witness firsthand. That horrible destruction is just for the audience as the Titans plow through Marley with no trouble. People are crushed by debris, stepped on by the Titans, incinerated by the heat, trampled by the escaping crowd, even left for dead by their fellow countrymen. It’s extremely difficult to watch.
We’re also given a look at Eren’s state of mind. He’s seen the future. He was given a glimpse of the Rumbling years before Wall Maria fell. And he considers that future to be a definite. I suppose there’s a discussion to be had about the cyclical nature of time. Eren sees the future and assumes that to be predestined. One has to wonder if he ever thought about just… not doing that.
“When I learned humanity was alive outside the walls, I was disappointed,” Eren tells a young refugee who later gets killed in the Rumbling. It stands to reason that Eren might have considered not going through with the Rumbling if the people outside of Paradis had proven themselves worthy.
For a brief moment, at Fort Salta, humanity is worthy. Unfortunately, it’s too little, too late. The officer who has ordered the bombing raid on the Titans takes a moment to speak to the assembled refugees and talk about how they, essentially, have brought this on themselves. They spent years hating a faceless enemy, channeling their grief and rage on an island full of people who had done them no harm, and Eren is the result. He was born of their hatred, he was fed on their rage, and he has come for his retribution.
But in the end, it’s in that image of Eren flying above the clouds, reveling in the destruction that he’s causing and considering that to be freedom. He can say all he wants that it’s for the people of Paradis, but he’s always been obsessed with the idea of freedom. It’s why he doesn’t control his friends or take away their Titan abilities, even though with the Founding Titan, he has the power to do so. He has the freedom to proceed with the Rumbling, and they have the freedom to stop him.
Because, really, while these refugees from Marley may have realized that hating each other is not the way to go, there are still an unknown number of countries out there that still hate Eldians. They haven’t faced their Revelations. The destruction of the fleet in “The Dawn of Humanity” isn’t anything like what the citizens of Marley went through. Like it or not, there are right now only two ways for this to end: either all the Eldians die, or everyone else dies.
This was very hard for his friends, particularly Armin and Mikasa, to accept. Up until they are pulled into the Coordinate and Eren talks to them, I believe both Armin and Mikasa truly believed that they would be able to talk Eren out of continuing the Rumbling. The others, specifically Levi and Pieck, don’t seem to have ever thought that was a possibility. But sadly, it’s going to have to be Armin and Mikasa who end up taking Eren down.
I appreciate that Armin confronts Eren on the nature of freedom. Is what Eren is doing really freedom? He’s beholden to a vision of the future that he got. He’s trapped in the trauma of the original Ymir. This can’t really be what he wants. But now it seems that he’s too far gone.
Now that we’re no longer on Paradis, I suspect we won’t see Historia for a long time. Are we ever going to learn the truth about why she got pregnant? Because I’m not going to lie, I really hate the whole pregnancy thing. As of right now, it doesn’t make sense, and it sidelines Historia for seemingly no reason.
As for Levi, he has lost everything. He’s lost his family, all of his friends, Eren, and even his fighting ability, which is basically the only thing he had that separated him from others. All he has left is the promise he made to Erwin, to take down Zeke. I absolutely believe that Levi will take down the Beast Titan; whether or not he dies in the process is something I’m still not sure about.
Related: do we think that the Beast Titan we saw hurling rocks at the airships was actually Zeke, or was it a construct of the War Hammer Titan?
Something that I only realized in retrospect: in the promotional image for the final chapters, Hange and Annie are missing. (Apparently Attack on Titan is notorious for dropping spoilers in the OPs and EDs, some of them even before that information was revealed in the manga.) Hange, of course, dies before they are able to confront Eren. Annie, tired of fighting, stayed behind. She has taken responsibility for Gabi and Falco. I will laugh so hard if the only person who makes it through is Annie.
Gabi and Falco, though, are not happy at being left behind. Falco seems to be connected to Zeke, even more so than Eldians are all connected to each other. I’d wager that they will be able to use that to his advantage. Also, he can fly, apparently, which makes sense considering his Titan form. And I can’t imagine that they unthawed Annie only for her to have no role in stopping the Rumbling. After all, she has the ability to call other Titans to her, and as Falco points out, she is able to take on aspects of the other Titans.
I find myself trying to figure out where this will go and how everything will end, but I’m unable to do so. This has been a slow descent into madness and there’s no way to guess what will happen. All I can do is wait and see how it all ends.
Part 2 will be released sometime in fall of this year.
Author: Jamie Sugah
Jamie has a BA in English with a focus in creative writing from The Ohio State University. She self-published her first novel, The Perils of Long Hair on a Windy Day, which is available through Amazon. She is currently an archivist and lives in New York City with her demon ninja vampire cat. She covers television, books, movies, anime, and conventions in the NYC area.
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